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Staff Profile

Dr Joan Walton

Senior Lecturer

Staff profile image of Joan Walton

My first degree is in Social Theory and Institutions (University of Bangor, North Wales), which allowed me to study a range of diverse subjects such as Sociology, Social Psychology, Criminology, Philosophy and Study of Religions. After spending a year in India and Southeast Asia, my early professional career was in social work, mainly working with children and families in residential and community settings. I then moved on to teaching on a professional social work qualifying programme, during which time I gained a master's degree in Race and Education at Birmingham University.

In 1995 I established an independent centre for action research and education, which enabled me to be involved in a wide range of staff development and funded research projects in the public, private and not-for profit sectors. Initially, these were mainly in education, social care and health settings, but over time I increasingly became involved in developing, delivering and assessing accredited programmes for leaders and managers in the corporate sector.

Following completion of my PhD in 2008, I had a career change, and entered the academic world, initially at Liverpool Hope University, and now part-time at York St John University in the School of Education, Language and Psychology. My main research interest is investigating postmaterialist ideas about consciousness, and exploring what relevance these ideas have for education. I have, with colleagues, developed an international network of academics and educators, interested in evolving Consciousness Education across all age ranges, in diverse educational settings.


I teach on all modules on the Doctor of Education (EdD) programme:

  • Module 1: Identifying and Articulating Issues in Professional Practice
  • Module 2: Contextualising Issues in Professional Practice
  • Module 3: Researching Issues in Professional Practice
  • Module 4: Interpreting and Impacting on Issues in Professional Practice

I also teach on the MA Education Programme, on the Methods of Enquiry module.


My recent published research has been in early years, and taking a holistic approach to the care and education of children within a participatory paradigm. I have also been researching the phenomenon of consciousness within a postmaterialist worldview and its implications for education. This has led to an interdisciplinary study, drawing on work that is being undertaken in science, neuroscience and philosophy on consciousness, and researching collaboratively with others to develop and evaluate Consciousness Education across the age ranges, in formal and informal educational settings. Through this growing research, the focus on intergenerational practice has become strong, providing a different perspective on collaborative working and research. This is generating new perspectives in relation to dealing with the many environmental and interpersonal crises the world is facing.

I am also researching the impact of Study Abroad on students who spend a year in Japan or Korea, and how this affects their worldviews, norms, beliefs and values, and their sense of identity.


Articles and Book Chapters

Walton, J.   and Darkes-Sutcliffe, J. (2023) Re-imagining education: cultivating a triangle of trust and relational pedagogy within a participatory paradigm. Education 3-13. pp. 1-14.

Walton, Joan et al (2023) Learning from Covid: recognising the centrality of the relational in early years practice and research. Early Years pp. 1-16. 

Walz, L. Haines Lyon, C., Bright, G. Walton, J.  and Reid, K. (2023) Unlocking education through relationship building: Discourses of identity and agency in English educational institutions during Covid-19. British Educational Research Journal, 49 (4). pp. 711-730.

Walton, J.   (2022) The study of spirituality and consciousness through Bohm Dialogue. Journal for the Study of Spirituality. pp. 1-7.

Walton, J.   (2022) Politics of Knowledge. Paradigm Explorer, 138 (2022/1). pp. 3-6.

Walton, J. (2022) Transformation as a Continuing Spiritual Experience.  In Woollacott & Lorimer (eds) Spiritual Awakenings: Scientists and Academics Describe Their Experiences. AAPS Press pp. 107-110.  

Haines Lyon, C.  , Reid, K. Walton, J., Bright, G. and Walz, L. (2022) “Wanna preach about diversity? What have you actually done?”. Research Intelligence (151).

Walton, J.   (2021) Social justice and action research: can we collaboratively create a new social movement with social justice at the centre? Educational Action Research, 29 (4). pp. 510-525.

Walton, J.   and Darkes-Sutcliffe, J. (2021) The impact of Covid-19 on the mental health and learning of young children. Project Report. British Educational Research Association, London.

Walton, J.    (2021) The Entanglement of Scientism, Neoliberalism and Materialism. Paradigm Explorer (2021/1). pp. 8-12.

Walton, J.   (2017) The significance of consciousness studies and quantum physics for creating a spiritual research paradigm. Journal for the Study of Spirituality, 7 (1). pp. 21-34.

Walton, J.  & Harrison, N.  (2015) Integrating first, second and third person research to lead the creation of a learning organisation, in Pithouse-Morgan, K (ed) Polyvocal Professional Development: Enacting dialogic professional learning through self-study, Sense Publications.     

Walton, J. (2014) The role of the transpersonal in transformative research. International Journal for Transformative Research, 1, 1:25-44.   

Walton, J. (2011)  A collaborative inquiry: 'How do we improve our practice with children?'  Educational Action Research, 19 (3) pp. 297-311.  

Walton, J. (2011) A living theory approach to teaching in higher education, Educational Action Research, 19 (4) pp. 567-578.  




University of Central Lancashire  
“Children, Consciousness and Culture”
Main Speaker: The challenges and possibilities of developing consciousness education for children within a neoliberal materialist worldview


Center for Consciousness Studies (The University of Arizona) and the California Institute for Human Science.  
“Neuroscience Needs a Revolution to Understand Consciousness”.
Presentation:  Bohm Dialogue as process of Consciousness Education contributing to a revolution in neuroscience

International Network for the Study of Spirituality (INSS) 
“Critical Reflection and Professional Practice in an Uncertain World” at South East Technological University, Ireland.  
Presentation: “Consciousness and spirituality: are they two aspects of the same reality?”


British Education Research Association (BERA) 
Presentation: “Living through Challenging Times: Reflecting on the learning from Covid-19 for Early Years Settings”

Leeds University Business School Online
Presentation: Invited Speaker “Creating a trauma- informed society which recognises the interrelationship of adults’ emotional health and the psychological wellbeing of young children”

2021 Online

Association of the Directors of Public Health Yorkshire and the Humber Sector-led improvement conference
Presentation:  Invited speaker “Learning from the pandemic: Integrating trauma-informed practice into policy and professional development in Early Childhood Education and Care settings”


British Education Research Association (BERA) 
Presentation:  “A Participatory Paradigm for Social Justice” 


British Education Research Association (BERA) 
Presentation:  “Newtonian Science, Quantum Physics and Evidence-based Educational Practice”


Bhakti Vedanta Institute of Spiritual Culture and Science
Invited Keynote Speaker
Action Research: A Methodology for Inquiring into Subjective Experience, Fifth International Conference ‘Science and Scientist’, Kathmandu.


Bhakti Vedanta Institute of Spiritual Culture and Science
Invited Keynote Speaker
Walton, J. (2016) Expanding Science to Include an Investigation into the Scientist’s Subjective Experience of Consciousness, Fourth International Conference ‘Science and Scientist’, Bangalore.

Professional activity

My professional activities include creating connections with a wide range of international organisations and networks, with a shared interest in researching consciousness, and a motivation to disseminate relevant knowledge and awareness to the wider thinking public. New ideas about consciousness are being explored across many disciplines, including science, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, religion and spirituality. As a consequence of this networking, I am now a Director of the Scientific and Medical Network and the Galileo Commission, Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Network for the Study of Spirituality, and an Honorary Research Fellow for the Alef Trust. This has led to organising and participating in a diverse range of conferences, symposiums, webinars and research seminars. Currently, I am involved in developing a Consciousness Educator's Network globally, where members are inquiring into how to evolve Consciousness Education in their particular educational contexts.